ATTENTION NON-WRITING TROLLS: 2014 Is Your Year! It’s Go-Time. It’s do-or-die time! Time to separate the wheat from the chaff. Time to put your money where your mouth is, wherever it is (unless your mouth is presently occupied with something other than talking. In that case, Ewwwgross.). Time to make a writer of yourself…or move on with your life.
In fact, in 2014, if you call yourself a writer and you aren’t writing, you may no longer USE the words “WRITE”, “RIGHT” in conversation, or even “WRIGHT” for that matter, which will suck if you’re into woodworking. Oy. Good luck with that.
And just HOW EXACTLY, you ask, are we going to do THAT? Well, we’re going to make resolutions (Boo. Boring. Yawn. Scratch. Fart.) Wait! I’m not finished! We aren’t talking about your pedestrian, garden variety resolutions. Oh no, mister. We’re talking about:
THE WRITER’S NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS FROM HELL!!!!
(thunder clap/shrill scream/maniacal laughter)
Here’s how it works: We are going to set goals, realistic ones, but goals nonetheless. Goals like “Complete The First Four Chapters” or “Outline My Novel” or “Join a Writers Group and Attend At Least Eight Times” or “Submit Five Articles to Magazines”. Something you can give evidence of having actually done. If you FAIL to complete your goals, you will be cast beneath the superhighway overpass of writerly awesomeness to forever live as a non-writer…a troll. A golem. A ghost. Children will weep at the sight of you. Not only that, you will suffer ACTUAL consequences. How so? The same way it works in the real world when you don’t do what you’re supposed to do: You pay. One way or another. With time or money or physical discomfort or social rebuke. After all, nobody would pay their taxes if they weren’t afraid of fines or imprisonment. So if writing is so important to you, like you’ve been telling yourself and blabbing to everyone else, it’s time to put up or shut up. Chances are if you aren’t willing to risk something of consequence, you aren’t really interested in writing and should probably find something else to do, like carve canoes or develop chili con carne recipes for vegans.
By the way, this tactic works for others as well, not just writers.
And so without further to-do, here are some suggestions for WRITER’S NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS FROM HELL:
1. Cash Money. Yep. The green stuff. Usually a prime motivator for us materialistic or Fear-Of-Being-Poor types. Pick a number, one that will sting but good but won’t have you so broke you’re dumpster diving the McDonalds for lunch. How do you do that? Depends on your situation. Total up six months worth of stupid stuff like dining out, or movies you buy, or chai tea lattes…whatever your expendable income is for a decent chunk of time. Whatever that number is, find it. Then write a check and give it to someone you trust. REALLY trust. Explain the rules to them in detail. Put it in writing. Both of you sign it. Be willing to provide evidence at the end of the year if asked, then be clear with yourself that there is no turning back, no begging for mercy, no excuses. If you screw up, that money is G. O. N. E. gone.
2. Donate. Pick some organization that makes your skin crawl. Whatever your politics, find an organization that stands against everything you believe in. Right winger? Donate to Humanitarians For Zombies. Left winger? Donate to the Tea Partiers Against Pet Weddings. Pandas attacked and killed your entire family when you were a baby? Donate to Pandas-Without-Borders.
3. Tattoo. You pick the location, someone else picks the artwork. Oh yeah. Talk about committing to the cause. If you go this route, you’re a total baller and have my respect. Please send me pics. Please. Oh god, pretty pretty please. (Maybe I’ll do this one myself if this blahg ever gets read by more than three people.)
4. Volunteer. Add up the time you would normally spend watching TV or going to the movies or sitting around on your lazy backside NOT WRITING each week and agree to spent it someplace that challenges you and will make you uncomfortable. Pledge that time to an animal shelter or a food pantry or soup kitchen or literacy program. Personally I think you should volunteer anyway, but I’m not your mother or your conscience. I’m hardly qualified for either, frankly.
5. Social Media Banning. Perhaps the cruelest of them all. If you fail to meet your goals, you are banned from all Social Media platforms. What would a non-writing troll need with them anyhow? It’s not like you have a book to push or anything. OH SNAP!
Got some other creatively punitive ideas? Send em my way and I’ll post em if they’re cool.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Who the hell do you think you are? Why don’t YOU put YOUR money where your mouth is, you damned dirty hypocrite!” Not so fast, amigos. I already have. OH YES INDEEDY. Last June, I gave two checks to my closest, most trusted friend and ally: Lisa Sleeper. (This girl not only has an awesome name, she’s the most kickass friend ever in the history of friend-dom. She’s part Mrs. Claus and part Melissa McCarthy.) Each of these checks was written to her in the amount of $200.00. On the bottom of one, I wrote “Short Stories” and on the bottom of the other I wrote “30lbs”. I had two simple goals. Complete at least the rough draft of all the stories I intended to put in my short story collection, and lose the 30 pounds of blubbery-blob that I gained over the past five years. In total, I stood to lose $400.00 bucks. For real. Yeah. Ouch. I had to make it enough to smart or it wouldn’t work.
Guess how many I accomplished. All of them. And by all, I mean, I accomplished all the ones that were important to me; the ones that caused my brain to switch on and scream, “Holy shit! We got work to do!”. That’s how many I accomplished.
And how many was that? One.
That’s right. One. I completed six rough drafts, one edited draft and two polished drafts of stories to be included in the collection.
What did I gain? Well, I gained the knowledge that I am, in fact, a writer who can be motivated to write, and now I’ve built a pretty solid daily writing habit to boot. I also stopped obsessing about my weight. Apparently it isn’t as important as I had led myself to believe. It didn’t inspire the feeling of urgency that failing to write did, so I just didn’t do it. Granted, I faced a fairly significant obstacle: I had ankle surgery this Summer, but that’s no excuse. I could have lost the weight. I just didn’t. And yes, I’ll drop it…eventually.
Truth be told, if you’ve got the guts to try something like this, you’re probably a writer who just needs a little extra push to get moving and shake the rust off your gears. Just like me. All writers have their tricks to get them and keep in the writing seat. This happens to be mine right now. It might be yours too. Nothing wrong with that.
So if you struggle with the question of “If I’m A Writer, Why Aren’t I Writing?” (an issue I will address in a later blog) and you’ve tried everything else, try this tactic and see what happens. If the idea of not writing upon pain of punishment doesn’t move you to produce, well, it’s likely time for you to move on with your life and leave writing alone. Harsh, I know, but isn’t that better than beating yourself up another year for not doing something you really have no intention of ever really doing? At least, I think it is. Sure it will hurt for a time. If you’ve been telling yourself you’re a writer all this time, it’s likely a part of your identity even if you never did produce anything. You’ll get over it, just like you got over being dumped by that drummer in New Orleans.
If you don’t, well…whip out your checkbook and try it again in a year or two.
So…..if you’ve got the cajones to make the RESOLUTIONS FROM HELL 2014, click on “Follow Fight Like A Writer”, post in the comments what your goal(s) is/are and the consequences if you don’t follow through, and we’ll go the distance together. I’ll help in any way I can. On a side note, I promise to share my own personal RESOLUTIONS FROM HELL and the penalties if I fail.
And oh, yes. I almost forgot. Merry Christmas Lisa.